"Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." And this she did for many days.But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe." Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The Philippian Jailer Saved
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here. "Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
Paul Refuses to Depart Secretly
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, "Let those men go." So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace."But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out." And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed. N(KJV)
Bible Study Outline: Exposition Book of Acts Chapter 16 (Part Two)
“Paul’s Second Missionary Journey” Continued…..(verses19 thru 40)
Introduction: Quick review….
In Philippi, the chief city of Macedonia, Paul and Silas began the second missionary journey. So far Lydia, a seller of purple and a native of Thyatira became the first Christian convert from Asia Minor. Afterwards, after the missionary team of Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke were given permission to lodge at Lydia’s house, Paul continued to preach in Philippi. It came to pass as Paula nd the rest went to the amphitheater to pray he encountered a maiden who was under the demonic possession of a spirit of divination. After being grieved for many days, Paul under the power of the holy Spirit cast out that demon, putting her masters money making scheme out of business. (verses 16 thru 18)
Angered by the sudden change of events, her masters caught both Paul and Silas and drew them into the marketplace where open court cases were generally heard by the magistrates. The “masters” filed formal charges against them, accusing them of being trouble makers that taught “unlawful customs” (new religious practices and beliefs) to Roman citizens. The magistrates responded by tearing off their clothes and beat them with “many” stripes then had Paul and Silas thrown in jail, with strict orders to the Philippian jailer to secure them safely. The jailer responded by throwing them in the “inner” prison or dungeon and secured them by placing their feet in ‘stocks”.(verses 19 thru 24)
Concerning Roman religious practices:
Footnote concerning the charges brought against Paul and Silas:
Romans were very zealous for their national worship. Great care was taken on the that no one introduced a new religion in Rome. It’s on this account Jews were banished from Rome. The preaching and teaching of the Gospel was considered an introduction to a “new” religion.
Footnote concerning Roman punishment:
Unlike the Jews who rendered punishment by beating an alleged criminal striking him 39 times with a rod, the Romans were more brutal. They didn’t have a maximum number of times they would strike a criminal. They would strike the person as many times as they desired.
Concerning Roman Stocks:
Roman stocks were not only made to keep one from escape, but were made with holes wide enough apart so as to stretch the legs and bruise the feet to cause great pain and injury. This with the stripes beyond moderation made them suffer agony. But in spite of this they could sing and pray (Acts 16:25). The prisoners heard them.
As we continue this saga, Paul and Silas, having been thrown into the dungeon and placed in security stocks, bruised and battered and suffering more pain from the configuration of the stocks……
Another Conversion: The Philippian Jailer and Family (verses 25- 35)
At midnight, Paul and Silas, bruised, battered from a tremendous beat down, placed in solitary confinement in pain causing stocks in a Roman dungeon did the unimaginable: they prayed and sang praises unto God….from a dungeon!
Understanding the power of prayer and praise
Paul and Silas were so fully satisfied that they were suffering for a righteous cause and had done their duty, Now, understand the Devil wanted them to regret the fact they took on this journey in the first place, but they knew they were doing this for the glory of God and for the opportunity for Gentiles to be saved, so there was no room for having any regret or having any “woe is me moments”. When you’ve done the work of the Lord and God is please and comforts you in your tribulations and persecutions, there’s no reason or room for regretting the experience. Observe these 2 things:
The presence of the Lord was with them, from punishment to prison. So in response to the consolation of God, they prayed, first, for God’s grace to support them, and for pardon (forgiveness) and salvation for their persecutors; and then...
They sang praises to God, who had called them to such a state of salvation, and had accounted them worthy to suffer shame for the testimony of Jesus. And, although they were in the inner prison, they sang so loud and so heartily that the prisoners heard them.
Remember what the Apostle Peter said
:“Beloved, don’t be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name”. (1 Peter 4:12-16)
And the prisoners heard them. (Vs. 25)
Prayer and praise are not commonplace in a prison, so it had to astonish the rest of the prisoners incarcerated. Singing songs of rejoicing and the language of praise is not usual found among men lying bound in a dungeon. What can we take from this?
As Christians, we have the sources of happiness within us. It’s important to keep the WORD of God and Gospel songs in your heart with a ready praise on your lips. Praise is what we do….but praise is also who we are. There will be times when you will find yourself in situations where you are by yourself and trouble is on every hand and you will need to pull from within what the Lord has deposited in your spirit man. External circumstances cannot destroy a Christian’s peace or joy. The joy that have, the peace I have, the love I have….the world didn’t give it to me . The world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away! What Paul and Silas had on the inside, the dungeon, the stocks, the prison or the prisoners could take it away from them.
The enemies of Christians (the devil, any demon, or any evil living person) cannot destroy their peace. They may incarcerate the body with sickness, bruises and disease, but they cannot bind the Holy Spirit or your spirit. We may suffer and be excluded from all the earthly comforts, but the forces of evil cannot shut us out from the presence and sustaining grace of God. God will meet you in your prison situation. Just remember you can pray in any lock-up situation and God will come and see about you.
There is great value in having a good conscience. Nothing else can give peace; and amidst the wakeful hours of the night, whether in a dungeon or on a bed of sickness, it is of more value than all the wealth of the world. PEACE OF MIND IS SOMETHING MONEY CANNOT BUY.
We see the inestimable worth of having a personal relationship with Christ and believing and embracing all of God’s principles, precepts, and truth. The WORD of God has a remedy for every situation. God’s Holy WORD will undergird and give support in all trials; upholds you by day or by night; inspires the soul with confidence in God; and puts into the lips the songs of praise and thanksgiving.
We have here a sublime and holy scene which sin and infidelity could never furnish. What is a more sublime spectacle has the earth witnessed than that of scourged and incarcerated men, suffering from unjust and cruel inflictions, and anticipating still greater sorrows; yet, with a calm mind, a pure conscience, a holy joy, pouring forth their desires and praises at midnight, into the ear of the God who always hears prayer! The darkness, the stillness, the loneliness, all gave sublimity to the scene, and teach us how invaluable is the privilege of access to the throne of mercy in this suffering world.
God’s Response: “A Great Earthquake” The Jailer Saved
Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. (vs. 26)
The earthquake shook the entire foundation of the prison, opening all doors and loosening everybody’s bands
The Jailer’s response: Woke up out of his sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew out his sword and started to commit suicide (kill himself) because he thought the prisoners had escaped. (vs. 27)
Jailers were responsible for prisoners, and were under the penalty of death if any prisoner escaped a Roman jail or prison.. The jailor, woke up and finding the prison-doors open, took for granted that all the prisoners had escaped, and that he must lose his life on the account, chose rather to die by his own hand than by that of others. It was a customary belief among the pagans, when they found death inevitable, to take away their own lives. This custom was applauded by their philosophers, and sanctioned by some of their greatest men.
Paul’s response to the Jailer: Do no harm to yourself! We are all here! (vs. 28)
The jailer, wanting to be sure asked for somebody to bring him a light. (torch) He ran into the prison to see if what Paul said was true. He’s trembling because of the aftershock of experiencing an earthquake, coupled with the fact that he was a split second away from possibly losing his life because of it and taking his own life if the prisoners had escaped. He falls down at the feet of Paul and Silas, (realizing they were responsible for the miracle (that the prisoners had not escaped or had an inclination to do so)) then after bringing them out, he said to them:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved”? (vs. 30)
The most important question anyone will ever ask in this life is always a question of safety, whether it is temporal and personal or if it is personal and eternal. As for the jailer:
He didn’t asked this concerning the “post danger” of the earthquake,. There was none. God sent that earthquake to do exactly what it did: to shake the prison, open the doors, and loose the bonds of the prisoners.
God will shake the very foundation of that heavy burden that has you shackled, locked in stocks, open a door of escape and loose those chains that have you bound. Understand the following:
The apostles understood him as referring to his eternal salvation, which is why they spoke of divine eternal salvation that comes only through Jesus Christ.
He was no longer concerned about being punished by Romans or committing suicide. The prisoners were all safe; nobody had escaped, or showed any disposition to escape; and besides, who could hold him responsible for an earthquake or the damage it caused.
A calamity of this magnitude would cause him to be disoriented and confused, to the point that there would be a rush of questions, thoughts, a state of agitation, alarm, and fear. He would naturally ask Paul and Silas whom he now saw to be men sent by God, and placed under his imprisoning protection, what would it takes for he to obtain the favor of that” Great Being” under whose protection he saw Paul and Silas were under. Perhaps the following thoughts might have tended to produce this state of agitation and alarm
They (Paul and Silas) said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your house”: (VS. 31)
Then they spoke unto him and all that were in his house the WORD of the Lord (the Gospel)
Everybody in the jailer’s house was preached to and given the plan of salvation according to the Gospel message. They too had to accept Jesus Christ. The same salvation is offered to your family. It does not mean that his family would be saved simply by his believing, but that the offer of salvation would be given to them as well as to himself; that they might be saved as well as he. His attention was thus called at once, as every man's should be, to his family. He was reminded that they needed salvation, and he was presented with the assurance that they might unite with him in the peace and joy of redeeming mercy.
The “Effects” of Salvation: The Jailer now “ministers” to them: He washes their wounds, then he and his household are baptized. (vs. 33)
Salvation changed the Philippian jailer’s heart. This same man, a few hours before, had thrust them into the inner prison, and made them fast in the stocks. He had no concern about their stripes or their wounds then. But no sooner was he converted than one of his first acts was an act of humanity. He saw them suffering; he pitied them, and hastened to minister to them and to heal their wounds.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (household) (vs. 34)
He fed them and rejoiced in his belief in God (Jehovah through Jesus Christ)
Released From Prison (quietly) “Paul Refuses an Quiet Release” (vs. 35-40)
Reeling with fear from the remembrance of the earthquake, the magistrates came into court and ordered the release of Paul and Silas. They sent word to the jailer to release them and to go in peace. (vs. 35-36)
“ The magistrates have sent to let you go: Now therefore, depart and go in peace”.
They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. (vs. 37)
In his refusal to leave and in his response, Paul lodges 3 stinging complaints:
That they had been beaten contrary to the Roman laws.
That it had been public; the disgrace had been in the presence of the people, and the reparation ought to be as public.
That it had been done without a trial, and while they were uncondemn, and therefore the magistrates ought themselves to come and release them, and thus publicly acknowledge their error.
The affects of politics and the “importance” of knowing your rights:
Paul knew the privileges of a Roman citizen, and at proper times, when the interests of justice and religion required it, he did not hesitate to assert them. In all this, he understood and accorded with the Roman laws.
The Valerian law declared that if a citizen appealed from the magistrate to the people, it should not be lawful for magistrate to beat him with rods, or to behead him
By the Porcian law it was expressly forbidden that a citizen should be beaten (Livy, iv. 9). Cicero says that the body of every Roman citizen was inviolable. "The Porcian law," he adds, "has removed the rod from the body of every Roman citizen.
These 5 reason are why Paul called out the Roman magistrates:
(1) Because they had been illegally imprisoned, and the injustice of the magistrates should be acknowledged. The magistrates should publicly apologize and admit they were wrong in the way they treated Paul and Silas.
(2) Because the Roman laws had been violated, and the majesty of the Roman people insulted, and honor should be done to the laws. Abide by the law.
(3) Because injustice had been done to Paul and Silas, and they had a right to demand just treatment and protection.
(4) Because such a public act on the part of the magistrates would strengthen the young converts, and show them that the apostles were not guilty of a violation of the laws.(vindication of Paul and Silas’ character and “godly” integrity)
(5) Because it would tend to the honor and to the furtherance of religion. It would be a public acknowledgement of their innocence, and would go far toward lending to them protection under the laws as religious teachers. The gesture would vindicate and legalize the public preaching of the Gospel of Salvation and protect them as Roman citizens from public harassment as they ministered to the people in public.
What can we as Christians learn from what Paul and Barnabas experienced as it pertains to “turning the other cheek’?
Even though as a Christian we are required to exemplify meekness even in the case we receive injuries at the hands of enemies of Christianity, there are occasions on which Christians may insist and exercise their legal rights judicially according to the laws. (John 18:23.)
In honoring the Christian religion and promoting the evangelism of the Gospel, a Christian may bear much as a man in a private capacity, and may submit, without any effort to seek reparation; but where the honor of the gospel is concerned; where submission, without any effort to obtain justice, might be followed by disgrace to the cause of religion, a higher obligation may require him to seek a vindication of his character, and to claim the protection of the laws. His name, and character, and influence belong to the church.
The laws are designed as a protection to an injured name, or of violated property and rights, and of an endangered life. And when that protection can be had only by an appeal to the laws, such an appeal, as in the case of Paul and Silas, is neither vindictive nor improper. My private interests I may sacrifice, if I choose; my public name, and character, and principles belong to the church and the world, and the laws, if necessary, may be called in for their protection.
Paul said: Let them come and fetch us out! (vs. 37-40)
Reaction from the Magistrates: “Fear” Why?
They had a right to fear, for if this case was taken to Rome they would be deposed or probably executed for this violation of Roman law. Romans were zealous in protecting their citizens.
The magistrates came with many of their friends and pleaded for them to leave Philippi before another mob rose up against them. We didn’t know everything that led to you being arrested and accused. (Our Bad)
“You are truly righteous men”
Finally, Paul and Silas went back to the house of Lydia and fellowshipped with the brethren and comforted them, afterwards, they left Philippi and prepared to travel to their next destination: “Thessalonica”
Dr. William Edward Boddie